Bamboozle boasted three days of gorgeous weather, sweeping ocean views and lots and lots of rock. Stepping into the Berkeley Hotel, where I was staying for the weekend long festival of sun, surf and music, I felt like I was stepping into the “Continental Riot House” scene in Almost Famous. Every time I crossed the lobby to hop the elevator up to my room, I was confronted with the standard issue rocker uniform of leather, flannel, faux-hawks, tattoo sleeves and Vans as far as the eye could see. To really bump up the “It’s all happening,” factor, Cameron Crowe even replied to a twitter convo between me and a friend, referencing said movie and said line, pretty much providing the highlight of my life.
But back to the weekend at hand. Over a hundred bands played across seven stages spread out along the infamous New Jersey boardwalk. For me, Saturday Main Stage performers, Brand New, is one band to download/Like/see live ASAP. Hailing from Long Island, these five alterna-rockers were bringing their own fresh flavor while still bowing a nod in the direction they came from. From singer Jesse Lacey’s Morrissey-esque vibe to ripping through a kick-ass, spot-on cover of “Wish” by Nine Inch Nails, they ended their set by channeling Nirvana complete with hurling guitars and toppling drum kits.
Brand New weren’t the only ones paying homage from whence they came. Foos frontman and Nirvana drummer (as if he needs either of those intros, let alone any intro at all), Dave Grohl jumped behind the drums while regular Foos drummer Taylor Hawkins jumped behind the mic to sing, “Cold Day in the Sun.” The band closed out Day 2, gracing Asbury with a “short” set that ended uncharacteristically early. With a running time of two hours and ending at 9:30, the Foos ripped through their hits before they hopped a helicopter back to 30 Rock to play back-up for Mick Jagger on the SNL season finale. Although a very rock star move, not having three plus hours of Foo-time was a little disappointing.
The weekend provided a parade of noteworthy frontmen: Incubus’ Brandon Boyd was a wonder on the eyes and the ears, and Grohl, of course, defines charismatic. Sonny John Moore, aka Skrillex, was cool to watch and Brand New’s Lacey, All-American Rejects’ Tyson Ritter and Buckcherry’s Josh Todd were all stand-outs. Not to be left out, Jon Bon Jovi leaves nothing to the imagination as to how he got to where he is today as one of the most famous frontmen in the world.
Bon Jovi closed out the festival and, although JBJ said the band was a little rusty from not having played together in a year, the crowd didn’t seem to notice. Bon Jovi’s been around almost as long as I’ve been alive, and I’ve been a fan about as long. I’ve seen them many a time, and seeing them live never gets old. The genuine smiles on those four Jersey boys’ faces as they closed out a hometown show at a festival that returned home after a ten-year absence couldn’t have been a more apropos ending to a totally kick-ass weekend. Bon Jovi ‘s right: “Who says you can’t go home?”
Welcome (back) to Asbury Park, Bamboozle.